Efficiency study shows work to be done in schools
The Tonganoxie and McLouth school districts have some room in which to improve when it comes to efficiency, according to a new study on spending and student learning in Kansas public schools.
The report took into account data for 257 of the state's 296 school district in these areas: how much money the districts spent, how well students did on state math and reading tests and how many poor, disabled and English-language learning students the districts had.
Tonganoxie finished with an efficiency average of 87.55 percent, a smidge higher than the state average of 85 percent. McLouth finished below the average at 83.25 percent.
Tonganoxie Superintendent Richard Erickson said he hoped the study would provide data that would help the district set future goals for improvement.
"The Tonganoxie USD 464 efficiency score of 87.55 is above the state average; however, there is room for improvement as we want to always strive for greater performance and proficiency," Erickson said.
Scores were determined through linear mathematics, examining the relationship among three variables: inputs -- how much the district spends per pupil; outputs -- how well the district's students perform in reading and math; and constraints -- how many of the district's students have special needs.
The study used Kansas State Assessment scores from both the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years.
McLouth Superintendent Jean Rush said the study was a clear cost benefit analysis that gives districts direction on areas to improve.
"What did you get for your money? It's pretty straightforward," Rush said. "It tells me I have a long ways to go for our students, and our community deserves more out of us."
McLouth's core spending, or money spent on day-to-day operations adjusted for local differences in purchasing power, was $7,124 per student. McLouth's enrollment is 564. Tonganoxie's core spending was $5,082 per student with an enrollment of 1,679.
Rush said core spending was something she would be evaluating with board members. However, academics -- more specifically mathematics -- has been the school board's area of focus.
The study shows the high school's proficiency rate at 54.6 percent and grades third through eighth at 69.4 percent.
"Math is definitely an area for us for improvement," Rush said.
The McLouth school board has approved a math coach for the 2007-08 school year and has added more math instructors, Rush said.
McLouth's reading proficiency rate, according to the study, was 72.3 percent for high school and 82.3 percent for grades 3-8.
At Tonganoxie, reading proficiency rates for math were 52.6 (high school) and 70.2 (grades 3-8). In reading, Tonganoxie rates were 68.6 (high school) and 80 (grades 3-8).
Like Rush, Erickson voiced concerns with academics. He also noted signs of improvement.
"It is my belief that we must continue to set goals each and every year to raise student achievement on the state and national assessments," Erickson said. "I am pleased with the improved ACT scores of students in the school district.
"There is a need to continue to improve achievement on the state assessments for all students and in particular the special needs population of students."
Erickson said the district's summer school initiative was another indicator that strides were being made. The district has 172 students enrolled in the additional education.
The study produced 21 school districts with 100 percent proficiency, including Baldwin, De Soto, Gardner-Edgerton and Lansing.
The study by Standard and Poor is one in a series of reports done through a contract with the state, which the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is funding.